HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s a couple of months late, of course, but Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is apparently back to being, well … Derrick Rose.
So says Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who recently worked Rose out and had rave reviews for the former MVP and All-Star point guard who missed the entire season recovering from ACL surgery.
Granted, this is the news that Bulls fans were hoping for in February, March and even early April, as they sweated out whether or not Rose would return in time to help the Bulls in their playoff push that ended at the hands of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Mid-June is obviously a little late for the Bulls to do anything but crank up the expectations for next season, what with the news that Rose is back to his old explosive self again. More from Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com:
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose’s speed and explosiveness are back to where the former MVP feels like himself again.
“I worked him out about a week ago,” Thibodeau said in a phone conversation Thursday. “It was great.”
Rose missed the entire season rehabbing from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during last year’s playoffs. His longer-than-expected absence, and the ensuing debate about it, was the overwhelming storyline during a challenging Bulls season that ended in a second-round loss to the Miami Heat.
Last season is over, and Thibodeau is looking to the future.
“Watching the way he’s moving now, there’s a confidence,” Thibodeau said. “[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he’s there now. He feels great, and that’s the most important thing.”
He said Rose is “running, lifting, playing and shooting. His day is full.”
Thibodeau also cleared up one bit of information that bothered me throughout the Rose playoffs/comeback drama. We kept hearing about how Rose was dominating in practice after being cleared by the Bulls’ medical staff to resume normal activity. I couldn’t imagine him being that impressive and not returning to action. Thibodeau confirmed my suspicion:
“The kid was being totally honest,” Thibodeau said. “At the end of the day, you have to respect that. He wanted to be out there very badly. But no one knew when he would be ready, including him. It was a smart decision to wait. If you’re not quite sure, and you’re going to err, err on the side of caution. That’s what he did. And now he feels great.”
While reports speculated that Rose was dominating his teammates in the gym, Thibodeau says now that wasn’t the case.
“He was practicing and he was good sometimes, but he also wasn’t able to make the kinds of plays he likes to make,” Thibodeau said. “No one is more explosive and can change direction like him. He had to be capable of doing that.
“That’s what makes him so unique, how quick and explosive he is,” Thibodeau continued. “He can jump sideways to avoid contact. He’s always hopping around. That’s a lot on your knee. You have to be comfortable doing that. He takes off and he doesn’t take long to go from securing the ball to exploding and blowing by somebody.”
The criticism of Rose seemed overblown at the time, a point that Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson and the rest of his teammates made clear during the firestorm. And all of this latest news only reinforces the point that we should have taken Rose at his word when he said he was not ready to return in a fashion he saw fit.